Heading up the ‘stop me if you’ve heard it’ file is the news today that Apple may be considering incorporating near field communication (NFC) into the iPhone 6. Of all iPhone update rumours, this is one of the most reliable, popping up pretty much every time a new smartphone is in the works.
The difference this time? It’s all to do with mobile payments, which Tim Cook himself hinted strongly may be on the way in his first quarter earnings call back in January.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley say they’re convinced the technology will finally make its debut in Apple’s hardware this year, despite the Cupertino, California-based company’s extended forays into the worlds of iBeacons and AirDrop. Craig Hettenbach at Morgan Stanley has delivered a note to investors citing Apple’s financial disclosures, rumoured licensing deals and, of course, patent filings to back up the belief.
Regarding the latter, in January, Patently Apple noted a patent filing for a so-callled iWallet system that “goes beyond NFC to include new Air interfaces including a form of Bluetooth, such as iBeacon.
The website explains that the concept “relates to methods and apparatuses for conducting a wireless commercial transaction that is both user friendly and secure”. But if the iWallet goes beyond NFC, Hettenbach also notes recent moves in Apple’s retail in-store point of sale systems. As Gary Allen noted in Forbes earlier this month, a major upgrade is being rolled out for the POS system in the US and, among its features, is NFC technology.
To avoid security issues attached to magnetic stripe credit cards, Apple is now using an iPhone shell made by VeriFone Systems. “The most intriguing feature of the VeriFone shell is one that’s basically invisible – Near Field Communications (NFC),” wrote Allen. “VeriFone has provided a spot on the shell, just above the PIN pad, where an NFC-equipped smartphone might be tapped to exchange information with the EasyPay device.”
MacRumors believes that the supplier of the iPhone 5s’s M7 motion sensing chip, semiconductor company NXP, is the most likely source for the new technology, as it already has a strong relationship with Apple.
As noted at the top of this article, NFC rumours have swirled around iPhones almost as long as there have been iPhones and we’ve yet to see it happen.
Do we trust the musings of one analyst firm?
Maybe not, but as MacRumors also notes, Morgan Stanley isn’t a lone voice in the wilderness in this. Brightwire and perennial “well-sourced” Apple forecaster Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities have both made similar claims in the last few weeks.